Despite the rapid growth in the adoption of distance education, and asynchronous learning networks in particular, there is a dearth of detailed information on effective business models, business strategies and effective practices on which to build sustainable online education programs. What has been published on the business side of online education tends to focus on the costs and economic models, the growing for-profit sector, and new organizational approaches such as spin-offs and virtual university consortia. There are very few detailed, descriptive studies focused on the business models, strategies and effective practices of online education in U.S. degree-granting institutions.
With support from Sloan-C, we are launching a project to identify and document critical information for decision-making:
- Effective business models and strategies to initiate and expand distance learning programs.
- Insight on critical business issues surrounding distance learning such as marketing, student services, leadership and faculty training.
- Knowledge about the distance education marketplace investment in staff and resources and reasonable rates of return.
Discussions in a Sloan-C workshop on the Business Issues of Online Learning in early spring demonstrated a strong need for this information. Workshop participants also affirmed that issues such as marketing expenditures, program design strategies and faculty compensation are strongly impacted by the business context in which programs are developed and delivered. For example, an institution using online learning primarily for non-credit professional development programs has very different objectives, resource constraints, and levels of control over business factors than an institution focused on expanding access to its credit programs. Being able to apply successful models and strategies from other institutions requires knowledge of the similarities and differences in the organizational contexts. The authors aim to fill the gap by starting to identify the most common contextual variables that have an impact on business issues and creating categories useful for identifying peer institutions.
We are beginning by collecting some “quick” data to help us prepare for a workshop, to be offered through Sloan-C this fall, called "Identifying Successful Business Strategies for Online Learning." Information collected through this survey will help us formulate particular sessions of value to potential audience segments. In addition, the survey data itself will be analyzed and reported out. This survey will be followed by the development of a series of case studies that will be shared through the workshop.
To take the survey and sign up to be notified of further information on the Sloan-C workshop this fall, please go to http://clipboard.rit.edu/takeSurvey.cfm?id=2LO2KW.
Christine Geith, MBA, Ph.D.;
Director, MSU Global Ventures;
Michigan State University;
51 Kellogg Center;
East Lansing, MI 48824;
(517) 432 1950;
(517) 432 1327 (FAX); Geith@msu.edu
Christine Geith directs new online product development and creates new lines of business for Michigan State University. She is a founder and co-executive director of the Horticulture Gardening Institute. Prior to joining MSU, Chris was executive director of E-Learning at Rochester Institute of Technology where she was instrumental in launching one of the first online degree programs in the U.S. in 1991. An Arena Award recipient from the Center for Digital Education and senior associate of the TLT Group, Dr. Geith currently serves on the board of the National University Telecommunications Network and was formerly assessment editor for the Technology Source journal, board member of the New York State Center for Technology Skills Development, board member of the for-profit Global University Alliance, and founding board member of the Higher Education Knowledge and Technology Exchange. Chris holds an MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in education administration, curriculum and instruction from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Stephen Schiffman, Ph.D.;
Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship;
Babson College and Olin College;
Needham, MA 02492-1200;
(781) 292 2563;
(781) 292 2505 (FAX); Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen Schiffman has served in faculty and dean positions at Babson College since 1986. Under his leadership as Dean of the undergraduate program, Babson College received the 2002 Hesburgh Award for reinvention of undergraduate business education. Stephen’s research interests include entrepreneurship and the business issues of online education. His previous experience includes positions at Digital Equipment Corporation, Colorado College and University of Colorado-Boulder. Dr. Schiffman holds an M.S. from MIT in management and a Ph.D. from Dartmouth College in mathematics.
Karen Vignare, MBA;
Senior Research Analyst, Online Learning;
Rochester Institute of Technology;
91 Lomb Memorial Drive;
Rochester, NY 14534;
(585) 475-7657; email@example.com
Karen Vignare serves as Sr. Research Analyst for Online Learning at the Rochester Institute of Technology. In that position, she coordinates efforts to research all facets of online learning to improve online learning for students. She coordinates and oversees the survey and data analysis of current online learning experiences for students and faculty. She has published several pieces of research and instructor's manuals on distance and elearning. She is an adjunct professor teaching Customer Relationship Management and Marketing of Internet courses at RIT. Karen serves on several organizational boards including NUTN, Edpath, and Distance Education, and is a member of ASTD and the ADL-CoLab. Before coming to RIT, Karen was full time faculty at SUNY Alfred State in the Marketing, Retail and Computer Technology. She also served as a Vice-President and Political Economist for a Wall Street financial firm. She has an MBA from University of Rochester.